NOY SATISFACTION RATE DROPS / 'UNHOLY ALLIANCE' -PALACE-CONGRESS PACT SEALS RH BILL FATE


MANILA, DECEMBER 31, 2012 (MANILA STANDARD) By Joyce Pangco Panares - President Aquino’s net satisfaction rating dropped 12 points from +67 to +55 in December in a survey by the Social Weather Station, which showed people dissatisfied in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and across social and economic classes and genders, a senior official said on Friday.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Aquino’s satisfaction rating dropped 16 points in Luzon, 12 points in Visayas and four points in Mindanao but his annual average satisfaction rating remained high at +53 or “very good” because his ratings in the past three quarters were high.

“The drop was nothing to cry about,” Valte told reporters.

The survey was conducted from December 8 to 11 among 1,200 respondents. It has sampling error margins of plus-minus three percent for national and plus-minus six percent for area percentages.

An increase in the number of Filipinos dissatisfied with Aquino’s performance could serve as wake-up call for his administration if it continued to decline. So far, his over-all rating remained good.

“It still shows that the President enjoys a very wide margin of support among the people,” Valte said. “An ‘excellent’ to ‘very good’ is still something to show for.”

The president, who spent a four-day retreat in Baguio, said he felt recharged and was expected to report to work today.

“This vacation has been recharging even if we cannot leave behind the problems besetting out country. But the stress level in our Cabinet has been relatively reduced,” Aquino said.

The president has been advised to take regular breaks from his work after he got sick from flu, allergic rhinities and a bad stomach last month, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

The SWS survey showed that nine out of 10 Filipinos looked forward to 2013 with hope, but hopefullness fell to a record low in areas in Mindanao that were devastated by Typhoon Pablo.

‘Unholy alliance’ By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:03am

Palace-Congress pact seals fate of RH measure


[THE PHILIPPINE CONGRESS]

After A 13-year gestation, Republic Act 10354, or better known as the Reproductive Health Act of 2012, was finally signed and sealed, with much of the credit going to the “unholy alliance” between the Palace and majority lawmakers against the Catholics, the political opposition said on Saturday.

Opposition stalwart and Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua said it was an “undeniable fact” that several House members were ‘pressured’ to support the proposal for a national reproductive health policy being pushed by the Aquino administration even if has drawn unpopular support from their constituents.

The pressure, Fua said, was not because of the threat of the Catholic hierarchy to campaign against the lawmakers who would support the RH, but because of ‘political sanctions’ they could suffer should they refuse to support the Palace-backed measure.

“Some lawmakers supported the bill because they were afraid that the administration might withhold their pork barrel, or renege on its commitment to support their farm-to-market roads and similar infrastructure projects,” Fua said.

“I talked to some of them who said they have not received funding for their projects because they did not support the RH bill,” added Fua, referring to administration lawmakers who voted against the RH bill. He, however, refused to name them.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, meanwhile, said he was surprised over the “secrecy” in the signing of the RH law on Dec. 21.

“I was surprised about it, because I was expecting an elaborate and noisy coverage because this measure had become controversial,” Suarez said.

“But then, because the bill was very controversial in nature, was quite unpopular, maybe that’s explains why it was signed into law by the President without any noise,” Suarez added.

On Saturday, Malacanang finally confirmed that President Benigno Aquino III has already signed the measure after keeping silent for over a week.

Mr. Aquino reportedly signed the RH bill before going up to Baguio City for his first Christmas break in the country’s summer capital as president.

Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed the signing, but clarified that it was not done secretly.

Valte said Malacañang waited for a couple of days before making the announcement due to “the “intensity of the debates” and the “sensitivity” of the bill.

“Given the level of intensity of the debates that we had on this matter, and the sensitivity that this has caused, we deemed it best to wait a couple of days before the announcement was made,” Valte said in a radio interview.

She added that the Palace waited for the processing of the papers, which took eight days, before making the announcement.

“We received word that the paper itself was processed after the 26th and it was finished late on December 27. We at the Communications Group deemed it best to wait for a couple of days before making the announcement,” Valte added.

The President had certified the bill as urgent to ensure that the Congress passes it within the year, and also made the assurance that the bill will be signed into law before the year ends.

Valte said that given the President’s assurance, Mr. Aquino would not be able to beat his self-imposed deadline if he signs the bill after he goes back to Manila.

Valte said that the new law would take effect 15 days after its publication in at least two newspapers.

A Malacanang statement, meanwhile, said that the new law has closed a highly-divisive chapter in the country’s history.

“The passage into law closes a highly divisive chapter of our history, a chapter borne of the conviction of those who argued for, or against this Act, whether in the legislative branch or in civil society,” the statement said.

“This is the mark of true democracy: one in which debate that spans all levels of society is spurred by deeply-held beliefs and values, enriching and elevating public discourse, as we all work together to find ways to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.”

Under the new law, the government is mandated to provide the public full access to choose on how to plan their families whether through the natural way or the artificial way through the use of contraceptives.

The government is also mandated to provide better maternal health care, and educate the youth ages 10 to 19 years old on reproductive health issues and responsible behavior, among others.

Resources will also be made available to parents in accordance with their personal and religious convictions.

Since the bill was proposed 13 years ago, the Catholic Church has strongly voiced its opposition, saying that the bill would promote promiscuity and abortion.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the bill in the House, said the president’s signing of the law ended a long, and “arduous” crusade for a nationwide reproductive health care.

“With the President’s imprimatur on the enrolled copy of the RH bill, the arduous crusade for the enactment of a comprehensive and nationwide reproductive health law is over,” Lagman said.

“After a 13-year gestation, the RH bill is finally delivered, signed and sealed.”

Lagman said that the new law also carried the signatures of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and the secretary general of both the House and the Senate.

He also defended President Aquino’s ‘secret’ signing of the RH Law.

“Unlike the rage and controversy which attended the congressional debates and approval of the measure, the bill was signed as Republic Act No. 10354 in the privacy of the President’s study room without the anticipated ceremony in order not to exacerbate the conflict with some Catholic bishops and start the reconciliation process to ensure widespread support in the implementation of the RH law,” Lagman said.

He said that the RH law would benefit the country’s millions of women and children “whose health will be protected and promoted as maternal and infant deaths radically decline as a result of voluntary family planning and contraception by choice.”

“Women worldwide who have been anticipating the enactment of an RH law in the Philippines rejoice with the vast majority of Filipinos in celebrating the elevation of the bill into a statute,” he said. With Sara S. Fabunan


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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